Weitzman School of Design

The University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design prepares students to address complex sociocultural and environmental issues through thoughtful inquiry, creative expression, and innovation. As a diverse community of scholars and practitioners, we are committed to advancing the public good–both locally and globally–through art, design, planning, and preservation. 

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Now showing 1 - 10 of 878
  • Publication
    Community-Building as Neighborhood Preservation: A Case Study of Cedar Park in Postwar West Philadelphia
    (2024-05-18) Arden Jordan
    This thesis explores community-led efforts in Cedar Park, a West Philadelphia neighborhood, to ‘stabilize’ the community in the wake of white flight, between 1960 and 1990. As Cedar Park shifted from a primarily white neighborhood to a racially diverse community, two groups—Cedar Park Neighbors, a neighborhood civic association, and the Movement for a New Society, a radical pacifist group—applied varied volunteer efforts to stabilize and revitalize Cedar Park. These included: housing rehabilitation and related education, establishment of a community land trust, a block association to improve community safety, and a food co-op to address food insecurity. While contemporaneous urban renewal efforts in Philadelphia pursued preservation through regulation, Cedar Park Neighbors and Movement for a New Society realized preservation through these alternative means. By focusing on community-building and tending to the social, economic, and physical challenges of the neighborhood, these groups helped maintain both the social and physical fabric of the neighborhood. As the preservation field expands the connection between preservation and neighborhood planning in the twenty-first century, looking back at twentieth-century community-building efforts through the lens of preservation can help clarify what is preservation. By analyzing past practices, new preservation practices are suggested including: apply existing zoning overlays; utilize funds for rehabilitation and implement education programs; advocate for zoning variations beyond traditional family structures; create permanently affordable housing; and maintain abandoned houses and vacant lots. As Cedar Park faces new challenges in the twenty-first century, these tools can help build community and manage change for the future.
  • Publication
    Poseidon’s Peripeteia: A Post-War Transatlantic Ocean Liner and The Retention of Her Legacy, The SS United States
    (2024-05-18) Carrick Reider
    The SS United States is one of the three last physically remaining trans-Atlantic ocean liners. Through her achievement as the fastest passenger ship in the world, she was a projection of power for the United States in Post-War society, exemplifying the interplay of nationalism, design, and technology during an immensely significant era. Preserving the physical ship is essential for safeguarding this heritage and maintaining a connection to the past. This thesis looks at the history of the ship from the design stage up until today, the 1998-9 National Register of Historic Places nomination’s evaluation of the ship, maritime historians’ academic literature about her, and reviews current literature on guidelines for the preservation and interpretation of historic ships and other vessels. Furthermore, it discusses the SS United States Conservancy, the owners of the ship, and its interpretation of the ship, including the 2023 renovation plan of the ship prepared for the Conservancy, and its website. This thesis raises questions about the practical use of digitization for heritage materials, and if it undermines preservation plans of the vessel. There is also discussion of the 2023 lawsuit brought against the Conservancy that could result in the scrapping of the ship, raising further questions that if the ship is scrapped, what happens to the Conservancy and its continuation of the ship’s legacy. All this information thus argues for greater recognition of the historic value of ocean liners and the need for consistent guidelines and protocols that might assist advocates in safeguarding them.
  • Publication
    Architectural concrete vulnerability and climate change: I.M. Pei's National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the Everson Museum of Art
    (2024-05-18) Jingyi Luo
    Reinforced bush-hammered concrete is an important material in 20th-century architecture. As it ages, its vulnerabilities have become more urgent with climate change. Despite its historical importance, research on the climate change impacts on reinforced bush-hammered concrete remains scarce. This thesis examines two contemporaneous concrete buildings designed by I.M. Pei in different climate zones to assess the impact of climate change. The study aims to (1) evaluate surface recession rates since construction, (2) predict carbonation rates considering changing climatic variables using available carbonation models and climate projections from 1967-2099, and (3) analyze the combined effects of these factors in the anthropogenic era. This research offers quantitative evidence of climate change's impact on reinforced bush-hammered concrete, underscoring the importance of monitoring surface recession and carbonation depth in conserving such historic buildings and developing predictive models.
  • Publication
    The Hindu Center of Charlotte, North Carolina: Immigrant Place Making Through Religious Space in the US
    (2024-05-18) Anusha Khansaheb
    This thesis examines the relationship between the Hindu Center of Charlotte and the built fabric of the greater Charlotte-Mecklenburg region, asking whether “preservation” can become a tool to not only recognize but also ensure the longevity of the impact of South Asian immigrants in the built fabric of the American landscape. Although the main Hindu temple of the Hindu Center of Charlotte is not yet fifty years of age, constituting it as “historic” according to preservation policy in the US, it is a unique building worthy of the preservation field's attention. It represents how South Asian immigrants have created place by forever altering the American built environment through transnational processes and simultaneously developing uniquely new identities as South Asian Americans. This thesis is split into three parts: Historical Context, The Hindu Center of Charlotte, and In Terms of “Preservation.” The first section provides background on both the South Asian community as well as the Hindu community in the United States. The second section analyzes the material history of the Hindu temple as well as its social history and importance through observation and ethnographic methods. The final section looks at preservation discourse and proposes methods of planning and policy for specifically immigrant religious space. I conclude by asking: how can the temple be a model for other minority communities and religious spaces?
  • Publication
    Performance Evaluation of Chemical Poultice Removal of Silane & Siloxane Water-Based Water-Repellent Treatments on Hand-Molded Brick
    (2024-05) Qunxi Wang
    This research proposed to assess the effectiveness of chemical poultice in removing water-repellent treatments from hand-made brick substrates. This investigation is due to the history of unintended consequences caused by water repellents and subsequent damage, which necessitated a method for removal. Additionally, there is a growing need to ascertain if water repellents are retreatable and compatible for their continued use on historical buildings. Furthermore, the industry currently lacks research on the removal of water repellents. A performance-based evaluation was conducted to assess the effectiveness of solvent-based and alkaline-based chemical removers with poultices on modern hand-molded bricks. The evaluation contained water absorption test and water vapor transmission test, surface photomicrography and reflectance (FT-) IR spectroscopy. The findings revealed that tested modern water repellent treatment has high breathability and would not introduce water-related issues to bricks. However, the effectiveness of chemical poultices was found to be limited. Besides, the removal action was found to leave residues of chemical removers. These residues pose a risk of further deterioration to the bricks. Therefore, even though modern water repellent treatments have the compatibility with bricks, the retreatability is still a consideration.
  • Publication
    Widening Perspective: An Examination of Edith Standen, the Art Secretary to the Widener Art Collection at Lynnewood Hall
    (2024-05-18) Olivia Brogan
    This thesis studies the art collection amassed by Peter A.B. Widener and refined by his son Joseph during and at the end of the American Gilded Age. Spanning the years after the Civil War into the 1920s, many new-monied men like P. A. B. Widener, who made his fortune building the Philadelphia transit system, collected art, namely Old Masters, to build social status and demonstrate wealth. In 1897, Peter A.B. Widener hired Philadelphia architect Horace Trumbauer to design a palatial family estate, Lynnewood Hall, as a residence and gallery space for his art collection. Both Widener men believed art enhanced human experience and opened the private collection to the public. In 1929, Joseph Widener hired Edith Standen as Art Secretary for the collection. Edith’s diaries, correspondence, and her written work related to Lynnewood Hall, reveal her influential role in presenting the collection to visitors, establishing records for and researching the history of objects, and preparing the collection during its transition to the National Art Gallery in Washington D.C. following Joseph Widener’s donation to the new museum in 1942. The Widener Collection will never again hang in Lynnewood Hall’s gallery spaces, but Edith Standen’s written words document the art and life in the house and paint a picture or Widener-era Lynnewood Hall that can inspire future interpretations and installations of art or theatrical representations of the Widener Collection. Returning art to Lynnewood Hall in one way or another can return a spirit of artful presence to a house built for art.
  • Publication
    Jim Crowing Martha Washington: The architecture of a separate Black public school in Philadelphia, 1881-1937
    (2024-05-18) Agatha Basia Sloboda
    Philadelphia’s public educational landscape has suffered from various forms of racial segregation over the past two centuries. While Pennsylvania prohibited racial discrimination against students in 1881, Philadelphia restricted Black educators to teaching only Black students in separate schools until 1937. This thesis investigates Philadelphia’s separate Black public school buildings from 1881 to 1937 in order to illustrate the role of architecture in school segregation, as well as to place the history of segregated education in the built environment. With attention to the scholarship of school buildings’ design history, this study requires a further analysis of architectural history which includes maintenance, adaptation, evolution, and use over time. Two components form the content of this work: an inventory of 25 school buildings and sites designated for separate Black public education; and a case study of the Martha Washington School in the Mill Creek neighborhood of northern West Philadelphia. The inventory shows that schools belonged to one or more of four architectural categories: ‘Secondhand,’ ‘New build,’ ‘Annex,’ and ‘Rebuild.’ The case study analyzes the transition of Martha Washington School (built 1874) from all-White, to mixed, to internally-segregated, to its designation as a separate all-Black facility. The half-century-old ‘Secondhand’ schoolhouse was demolished and replaced in 1929 with a ‘Rebuild’ school plant – modern, up-to-date, and purpose-built for continued separate Black education. Examining themes of Black educational heritage and Jim Crow architecture in Philadelphia, this thesis discusses legibility of school building sites as historic resources whose preservation and interpretation should encompass change over time.
  • Publication
    Psyllium Husk as a Biological Amendment for Soil-based Shelter Coat Protection of Earthen Structures
    (2024-05-18) Jiwen Fan
    This research examines the physico-mechanical properties of soils amended with psyllium husk, a commercially available plant-polysaccharide-based soil stabilizer, used as a biological amendment and sustainable alternative to synthetic amendments for soil-based shelter coats. Common to all raw-earth-based construction, local availability, low cost, and low environmental impact are important aspects; however, earth is also highly sensitive to moisture. The increasing intensity of a single rain event due to climate change thus threatens the viability of earthen heritage in traditionally arid areas. For over 5 decades, synthetic organic polymers have been used to amend earthen materials; however, the success of these materials depends on the composition and moisture content of the soils. Incompatibility, irreversibility, and low sustainability further prompted reconsideration for alternatives to cope with diminishing resources and a changing climate. Among the possible alternatives are biological materials. With roots in traditional building practices, biological materials have been recently researched to reinforce soil in infrastructure and agronomy. Lab-engineered materials provide promises for artificially controlled quality beside environmental-friendliness. This research emphasizes two aspects of biological materials: water damage resistance and wide availability and low cost for immediate implication of site implementation. Psyllium husks are selected for further evaluation through laboratory-based testing designed for the desired properties. X-ray diffraction and SEM-EDS analysis shed more light on soil clay mineralogy and soil microstructure. Overall, psyllium husk presents high capacity in improving the resistance and durability of shelter coating materials against water-related damages. Further research on both psyllium husk and other biological materials is embarked.
  • Publication
    Advancing Cultural Heritage Preservation Through Digital Documentation: A Case Study of George Nakashima's Family House Using Historic Building Information Modeling (HBIM)
    (2024-05-18) Mojtaba Saffarian
    Historic preservation enters a new era with the integration of cutting-edge digital technologies, particularly Building Information Modeling (BIM), which has transitioned from its traditional role in the Architectural Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry to become a transformative tool in heritage conservation, known as Historic Building Information Modeling (HBIM). This thesis explores the application of HBIM, focusing on its benefits across various stages of preservation, from digital documentation to condition assessment. Alongside briefly exploring three case studies, the thesis's focus relies on performing a 3D HBIM model for George Nakashima's family house, proposing a methodology for HBIM implementation through a system of layers within Autodesk Revit. Postproduction and the long-term benefits of HBIM, including layered documentation, advanced visualization, enhanced collaboration, continuous data updating, morphological evolution tracking, and efficient data consolidation, are addressed. On the other hand, challenges such as high initial costs, complex implementation, and time-consuming training are discussed. The study emphasizes the need for clear project goals and BIM platform selection tailored to the project scope. Looking forward, the thesis discusses emerging technologies like smartphone-based 3D scanning, offering potential cost-effective solutions for heritage documentation. Through its examination of HBIM, this research contributes to the ongoing dialogue on technology's role in cultural heritage preservation, envisioning a future where advanced tools enhance preservation strategies and facilitate broader access to heritage resources.
  • Publication
    Arts-Based Third Spaces for Youth
    (2024-05-18) Srivastava, Vanya
    This thesis project aims to explore the role of arts-based third spaces in promoting equitable urban development and positive youth outcomes in Philadelphia. Third spaces, defined as informal environments outside of home and school settings, provide crucial platforms for youth expression, identity exploration, skill development, and community engagement. The study seeks to investigate the current state of arts-based third spaces for Philadelphia youth, identify the challenges and barriers to their accessibility, and explore elements that contribute to their effectiveness, both physically and socially. The research recognizes the spatial dimension of the issue, acknowledging that access to third spaces represents a spatial equity challenge. Physical barriers such as distance, transportation infrastructure, and built environment features, as well as social and cultural factors like perceptions of safety and belonging, can impede youth from accessing these spaces, particularly those from marginalized communities. Through spatial analysis and qualitative interviews and focus groups, this thesis endeavors to provide insights into planning for equitable urban environments that meet the diverse needs of adolescents.